|All Writings and Images Copyright © Court Bennett 2010
Sad Footsteps padded quietly on the uneven cobblestones,
Like soft cloth erasers on chalk-powdered blackboards.
Edward Tenere meandered through narrow canyon courses of meter-thick, brick monasteries
And slumped stone apartments peppered with the slow decay of age.
He did not know at that time.
He was completely, utterly, egregiously unaware.
As he tripped along the grey stones, he rubbed one swollen, sandpaper hand in the other,
And thought wistfully, distantly
Of how his personal sun’s warmth was now but a pinprick in the vast velvet black of the universe.
His body slouched like the buildings around him,
Thick where it should have been thin,
Ghostly skeletal where it once luxuried.
It was at that wispy moment that he felt it slip.
His nerve, his belief, his faith failed him.
Brain buzzed, eyes blurred, fingers blunt and numb,
Heart faint, strength faltering, will fleeting,
Only slightly, imperceptibly.
With a groan as deep as the world-heavy monastery he now leaned against,
He slowly turned the crash-carved corner.
Shock, Terror, Dismay, and then,
Wonder, Disbelief and Morbid Fascination.
He had expected with a predictable everyday-ness to see
The self-same tired street with
The self-same simple shops clumped claustrophobically in
The self-same rusts and grey-greens,
The roman labyrinth that Edward called home.
But what he saw had changed subtly.
In the long, mist distance
Edward raised his rough hands to wring out his blood-cracked eyes.
He stared, his mouth open and unable, so dry…
Now with a dying man’s panic filling his cigar choked lungs,
He broke into a slow trot,
Then a run,
And then a manic, desperate, flailing pitch
It couldn’t be,
But it was,
No, IT WAS NOT!
Driving him forward to mirage edge…
The nothing swirled and sickly whispered to him-
These are the rancid results of your spirit faults, your failings, and your crumbling faith
You, Edward, it’s all because of you!
The vapors taunted and shrieked
He stood feebly, awestruck at the precipice of the world and strained, mesmerized, to pull in the
Familiar undulating walks lined with chestnuts, the calling cart vendors of the open markets, the
Limp rainbows of laundry that criss-crossed the three o’ clock dark path…
Where were they?
He slammed his glazed eyes shut,
Tighter, Tighter, TIGHTER!
Defeated, broken, ill, Edward fell, the cobblestone crumbs biting into his knees-
He did not care.
He could feel the earth beneath slip sickeningly
The solidity of rock and soil became gossamer
The nothing grew, gorging itself on the here and now
It devoured the present with pleasure, all the while snarling and snapping at Edward
You, Edward, it’s all because of you!
“My God”, he cried. “I did not know. My God…”
In the quaking surround he could now hear the cacophony of cries,
Others could now see, there eyes now open and unbelieving
In panic they ran
The nothing swallowed them, a great whale straining the sea of all life.
With reckless humility he now prayed,
Prayed like he had never done
Prayed like it mattered
Prayed like he needed and had no where else to turn
He fell forward, clutching the fleeting ground in purple hands
Soaked and sobbing
Bashed and bruised
And then he slept
At first he slept the unsteady slumber of the diseased, and then deeper
He dreamt of warmth and sunlight, the gnarled grasses rolling and running through forests of
chestnuts, poplars and cottonwoods, the chipmunk chatter, the song-bird squawking,
He dreamt of life, brimming and full, beautiful and bright
He dreamt of hope.
“Mamma,” the intrepid toddler tugged. “Mamma, who is that man?”
“Pay no attention son,” the dark woman cautioned. “He’s just a drunken bum.”
The pair hurried on, afraid and uncertain
Edward struggled stiffly to his feet, greasy and wet, his clothes crusty
How long had he been here?
Suddenly he remembered the nagging nightmare and spun expecting to find hell itself upon him-
But instead found palatial parks ripe with sunbathers, strollers, picnickers…
Cart vendors and laundry all here…but how?
Had it all been a horrid dream?
Had he fallen and been injured, cracked his skull, taken ill?
No, Edward knew better.
With reverent awe that swelled his chest,
He knew better.
He was Enoch, Moses, and Jonah…
Empowered from on high.
Though yet unsteady, he held his head high and breathed deep the free air of spring
With wisdom in his shoes, Edward Tenere, Keeper of the Faith, of the World, walked home.
To read more contemporary poetry by Court Bennett, click on each of the titles below...